April 13, 2010
[datelines April 3-April 10; links correct as of April 13]
"To see what is in front of one's nose requires a constant struggle"—George Orwell
"A little learning is a dangerous thing"—Alexander Pope
"Nero Fiddles While Rome Burns"—Rome Daily Inquirer, 7-18-64A.D.
A Florida state senator introduced her "Jay Leno bill," to stop promoting middle schoolers to high school if they're as dumb about civics as the people Jay discovers on his "Jaywalking" segments. Inexplicable: why we tolerate that most naturalized citizens know more (because of the citizenship test) than many born-here Americans know. [ed.: Still, even the naturalization test is largely trivia.] Miami Herald
The Government's Gaming Gap: the constantly increasing inability of smart lawmakers to write regulations that smart industry lawyers can't render useless (or worse). Take, for instance, the FTC's recent "fix" of the deceptive (and annoying!) "Free Credit Report" troubadour TV ads. FTC Fix: If you offer free credit reports that come with a catch to them, you must disclose that credit reports are not totally free except at the FTC-authorized AnnualCreditReport.com. Game: Experian's "Free Credit Report" started charging "$1," donated to charity, and thus continues to exploit the catch while avoiding the disclosure. New York Times
A Worse Gaming Gap: Massachusetts's near-universal health-care system's penalties for not buying insurance are much smaller than the cost of any treatment, encouraging people to sign up when they need something and then drop out a few months later). [ed.: A second stimulus program–tax breaks for small businesses to encourage hiring–has been stalled for months, in large part because they can't figure out how to outsmart companies that would've hired without the break and companies that fire temps and then claim the break by hiring replacements.] Boston Globe
Discovered still on the books in California: a 1949 law that requires health officials to seek "cures" for homosexuality. Los Angeles Times
Discovered on the British police's surveillance video network (designed to protection against criminals): up to 14,000,000 cars photographed–and images stored!
--every day (including views of the driver and front-seat passenger). The Times
Local governments responding poorly to severely slashed budgets: In Chicago Heights, Ill., a new $200 "crash tax" for any 911 call in which emergency personnel are dispatched, irrespective of circumstances. In Ashtabula County, Ohio, Judge Alfred Mackey, when asked what citizens should do in view of the loss of 63 of the county's 112 deputies (and with many of the remaining force tied up with law-required duties such as prisoner transfers): "Arm themselves. [We]'re going to have to look after each other." Phoenix sheriff Joe Arpaio is as tough as they come in incarcerating bad guys . . unless the perp has a significant health condition that might require expensive medical care–in which case, miraculously, Joe turns all-"have a nice day" on him. WBBM-TV
(Chicago) /// WKYC-TV
(Cleveland) /// Courthouse News Service
Editor's Note: Later today, Your Editor will be posting this week's Pro Edition versions, plus more, in a new format (1) on
http://NewsoftheWeird.blogspot.com/ and (2) for e-mail delivery to those signed up for Pro Edition at Google Groups. Briefer story summaries, but the overall post is longer, and it will be known as (at least for this week) Good To Know . . .
is a kinda-upmarket rendition of News of the Weird / Pro Edition
. No perverts, no drunks, no stupid criminals. Just scary important